First of all a note about myself. While I am not a pro builder, I am not a novice either. I enjoy most kits because of their accuracy and engineering. It has to be reasonably accurate and slip together reasonably easy.... Thats why I love Tamiya!
Anyway, I built the original Tamiya Sherman (35122) years back and it was a good kit as I recall. Tamiya a few years ago updated (35190) that kit somewhat, and this new one, the M4A3 75MM Sherman, Front-line Breakthrough improves upon that update by adding some figures and accessories to give the consumer a nice little dio of a specific battle. To my knowledge, Tamiya has never done that before. I hope this is a new trend for them. This kit represents a wintery offensive during the battle of the bulge. Now on to the kits contents.
There are nine sprues, one set of vinyl tracks, and an upper and lower hull. The hull pieces themselves are dated 1981 and 1987 and have the old stock number of 35122. I know I built the old Sherman in 1981 but these have a second date of 1987. I don't know if Tamiya reworked the molds then, but the hull halves seem to be very well detailed. Better than I remember from twenty years ago. Three of the sprues are from the old kit, with two of them stamped 1981 and the other 1987. These are the running gear and turret.
Again, I think Tamiya reworked them somewhat in '87 but I can't be certain. You also recieve two matching sprues from the updated "Early" sherman release in 1995. These contain parts for road wheels and drive sprockets for the early war Sherman. Mysteriously these are marked "35250" and "35251". Both brand new releases in 2001. On to the obviously new spues: Four small, but well detailed sprues that make this kit.
Three new figures on one sprue, all infantrymen dressed in warm weather gear supporting the advance of the tank, one sprue of weapons, grenades, etc, and two duplicate sprues each with the new commander figure, gas can, four each of the .30 and .50 cal ammo boxes, K ration box and MG tripod. Since they are duplicated, you get TWO of the new commander figure. Look for him closely, he is ducking down in the commander's hatch avoiding sniper fire. Speaking of duplicates..you also get two of the driver half-figures from the 1995 release of the Sherman, and you get the original figures from the first release of the Sherman! Lets tally up them figures real quick. Two brand new 3/4 commander figures (complete above the knees), two 1/2 driver figures from the 1995 release (complete from the waist up), the original commander (full figure..) and original driver (again 1/2 sized..) and the three new cold weather figures. Also with this kit you have the option of using two types of drive sprocket and two types of road wheels. You can also opt between two types of commander's cuppola. Included of course are all the K-ration boxes, ammo boxes, oil and gas cans, and plethora of canvas field bags and helmets.
If you have built the orginal Sherman and liked it enought, then I would say this kit, or its sister kit, 35251 (105 Howitzer Advance) is worth a try. Although the principle portion of the kit, the Sherman, is an oldie, I think it holds up well. There is lots of texture and weld detail that should really stand out when spray painted and weathered. I don't know how accurate Tamiya's original Sherman is, but it is a good build. And then there are the new figures and the extra accessories. You can't go wrong there! I would give this kit an eight out of ten. Tamiya makes up for using the old mold by giving you lots of options with the road wheels, drive sprockets, commanders hatch, and extra goodies for the parts box.